VCR Manufacturer in Japan Pulls Plug on Production, Ending a Game-Changing Format

Funai Electric’s annual VCR sales fell from a peak of 15 million to 750,000 last year (Photo: Vinicius Tupinamba)

By Lamarco McClendon, Variety

Funai Electric, a Japanese consumer electronics company, will end production of VHS video cassette recorders (VCRs) at the end of July, according to Japanese newspaper Nikkei. This will also mark the end of the format as a whole 40 years after it began production.

Funai sold VCRs under the more familiar Sanyo brand in China and North America for nearly 30 years. The company’s move to stop manufacturing comes after years of declining sales and difficulty finding the materials for the electronics.

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Funai Electric began production of VCRs in 1983 following the unsuccessful launch of its own CVC format in 1980. The electronics company sold as many as 15 million VCRs per year at its peak. Last year, Funai sold 750,000 units.

The VCR gained mass appeal in its early years due to its ability to allow users to record TV shows.

Hollywood embraced the format, releasing movies on video cassettes that were then bought or rented from retail stores like Blockbuster, which has also dwindled over the years.

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Sony announced last year that it would stop selling Betamax video cassettes — a rival to the VHS, after stopping production of its recorders in 2002. Beta-format VCRs were required to play or record such tapes.

DVR and Blu-Ray have long made the both Beta and VHS obsolete. However, given the proliferation of VHS tapes and personal home videos, VCR owners are unlikely to abandon their devices.

Watch a promo for documentary ‘Adjust Your Tracking: The Untold Story Of The VHS Collector’ (brief NSFW language, cartoonish violence):